Smart Health

All Things Swiss Chard

Freshly picked selection:

Swiss Chard

Swiss chard is actually a member of the beet family.  These leafy greens can have brilliantly colored stalks and veins such as orange, red, white purple, and more.  The varieties that are pale in color are lighter in flavor, and the varieties that are bold in color have a stronger flavor.  Chard originates from countries that border the Mediterranean Sea but is now produced worldwide.  You can find Chard year round, but it is best during the summer months.

What do I look for?

Chard should be bright in color and crisp with minimally damaged leaves.  The stalks should not be limp.  Chard should be stored loosely in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to three days after purchasing.

Ways to Eat:

It is recommended to boil chard (uncovered) to let the acids leach into the water.  The flavor will be more pleasant afterwards.  It can also be sauteed or steamed.


Keep it simple with garlic and lemon with this Sauteed Chard recipe.

This Sweet Potato and Chard Salad recipe balances bitterness of chard with sweetness of sweet potatoes.

Have a healthy snack or salad accompaniment by pickling the stems!

Nutritional Benefits:


Herbst, Sharon Tyler. Food lover’s companion: comprehensive definitions of over 7200 food, wine, and culinary terms. 5th ed. New York: Barron’s Educational Series, 2013. Print.

“Swiss Chard.” Worlds Healthiest Foods,

All Things Watermelon

Freshly picked selection:


For many, a juicy slice of ripe watermelon is the definition of summertime and backyard BBQ’s.   Watermelons come in many colors and sizes and their flesh can range from red, pink, ivory, orange or yellow.  They can be as small as a cantaloupe and weigh as much as 260 lbs, as cited by the Guinness Book of World Records.  Watermelons originate from Africa and have an extremely high water content with sweet, juicy, yet crisp flesh.  Their peak season is from mid June to late August although you can typically find watermelon outside of those times, they just may not be as sweet.

What do I look for?

The outside of a watermelon should be cylindrical in shape without any flat spots.  The rind should not be punctured, bruised, or soft.  When cut, the flesh should be vibrant in color without any dry looking patches and to the eye should not be grainy in texture.  Seedless watermelons typically will still have some seeds, but they are soft in texture and edible.

Ways to Eat:

A ripe watermelon is delicious when freshly sliced.  They can also be enjoyed in juices, smoothies, alcoholic beverages, sorbets, salads, desserts or even quickly seared or grilled for a savory approach.  In many parts of the world, every part of the watermelon is used – even the rind.  Pickling the rind is very popular in southern cuisine and in other cultures.  In Asian cuisine, the seeds are often enjoyed roasted.


Put a twist on your favorite Caprese salad by adding watermelon; it’s a light and refreshing appetizer for those hot summer days!

This Grilled Watermelon Salad adds contrast to the sweetness of watermelon by giving it a quick sear on the grill.

This Summer Shrimp Salad combines all of the fresh flavors of lime, watermelon, cilantro, and avocado into a refreshingly light salad topped with shrimp.

Nutritional Benefits:


Herbst, Sharon Tyler. Food lover’s companion: comprehensive definitions of over 7200 food, wine, and culinary terms. 5th ed. New York: Barron’s Educational Series, 2013. Print.

“Watermelon.” Worlds Healthiest Foods,

All Things Bell Pepper

Freshly picked selection:

Bell Peppers

Bell peppers are named for their bell like shape and are found in a variety of colors.  The most common color is green but orange, yellow, red, and even purple are becoming more commonly seen.  Their flavor is mildly sweet and their flesh is juicy.  Red bells are actually green bells that have been ripened on the vine longer.

What do I look for?

Look for bell peppers that are firm and not limp or shriveled.  Their skin should be smooth, bright, and their stem should be green with no traces of black.

Ways to Eat:

Bell peppers are one of the most versatile foods and a staple in many different types of cuisines.  They can be chopped up and added to a mirepoix for base flavor like in Creole cooking; they can be stuffed, roasted, sauteed, grilled, baked, steamed…the list goes on.


It’s hard to say no to a Healthy Stuffed Pepper!

Master how to roast peppers three different ways.  Roasting is an incredibly easy way to bring out a peppers inherent sweetness that adds layers of flavor to any dish.

A Pepper and Onion Stir Fry is a great way to enjoy the flavors of the bell pepper with just a quick saute in the wok.

Nutritional Benefits:


Herbst, Sharon Tyler. Food lover’s companion: comprehensive definitions of over 7200 food, wine, and culinary terms. 5th ed. New York: Barron’s Educational Series, 2013. Print.

“Bell Peppers.” Worlds Healthiest Foods,

All Things Cauliflower

Freshly picked selection:


Cauliflower is a commonly found cruciferous vegetable.  It is a close family member of cabbage, kale, broccoli and collards.  The head, or “curd” of the cauliflower can come tightly packed or loosely packed.  Americans prefer the tightly packed curd while other cultures, such as the Chinese, prefer loosely packed.  China and India are the two largest consumers of cauliflower in the world.

What to look for when purchasing:

Look for heads of cauliflower that are without discoloraton.  The leaves should also be green without any sign of yellowing. When pressed, the curd should be firm and not give to pressure.

How to store:

Cauliflower should be tightly wrapped and stored in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.  Riced raw cauliflower can be frozen for up to 6 months.  Cooked cauliflower can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.


The most popular variety is white cauliflower, but purple and green can also be found.

Nutritional Benefits:


Learn how to rice 


mash cauliflower!

This recipe is one of our favorites to date.  See how to make a pizza crust or bread sticks the whole family will LOVE using only cauliflower, eggs, and cheese!

Try making this warming Roasted Garlic and Cauliflower soup.

Our Chefs & Nutritionists Say:

“Cauliflower is truly an underdog that can do almost everything in the kitchen.  From being a rice or potato replacement all the way to making a “bread” with it!  I love it’s versatility.”

-Stefanie Gates, PreviMedica Culinary Advisor


Herbst, Sharon Tyler. Food lover’s companion: comprehensive definitions of over 7200 food, wine, and culinary terms. 5th ed. New York: Barron’s Educational Series, 2013. Print.

“Cauliflower.” Cauliflower,


All Things Kiwi

Freshly picked selection:


Originally known as Yang Tao, the kiwi fruit originated in China.  Chinese missionaries brought these unique tasting fruits to New Zealand and they were soon after renamed Chinese gooseberry in the 1960s. Once they were popularized in the United States, their name changed once again to the Kiwifruit, paying homage to the national bird of New Zealand, the Kiwi.

What to look for when purchasing:

Kiwis are available year round.  California-grown kiwis are available November through May and New Zealand kiwis are available June through October. Kiwis should be about 3 inches in diameter with brown fuzzy skin.  The skin should be smooth and not wrinkled.  When you press on the flesh, it should give mildly.  If it is hard, much like an avocado, it needs time to ripen.

How to store:

Kiwis should be left at room temperature to ripen, but can be stored in the refrigerator as well. Consuming a perfectly ripe fruit will yield the most nutritional value.


 California and New Zealand

Nutritional Benefit:

What have we done with kiwifruit?

Check out our recipe for this delicious Kiwi-licious Smoothie.


Watch how we peel a kiwifruit with a spoon here.


“Kiwifruit.” World’s Healthiest Foods, 26 Jan. 2018,


Stefanie Gates, chef, is a regular contributor to our blog and a culinary advisor for PreviMedica. She enjoys developing recipes and creating cooking videos to share with our readers, as well as working one-on-one with our clients to teach them valuable cooking skills. You can learn more about her here.

The Connection Between Sleep and Health

sleepWe’re taking a break from the nutrition-related posts today to talk about an element of health and wellness that is often overlooked or just plain ignored: sleep!

Although we’ve all heard of “8” being the magic sleep number, your ideal sleep time may fall anywhere between 7 to 9 hours. Unfortunately as we all know too well, there are many life distractions that make it less likely for us to meet our sleep needs: work, family life, household chores, and other priorities (ahem, like your next Netflix binge). To top it all off, even when we do make it to bed at a decent time, some of us may have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep due to stress or sleep disorders. According the National Sleep Foundation, 67 percent of Americans are sleep-deprived or have sleep disorders. That means that 2/3 of the people in your office right now are wishing for more sleep (maybe even you?)

So what’s the big deal with sleep anyway? With a little coffee, most people get by just fine, right? Not exactly… especially not in the long term. Among the many conditions that inadequate sleep time and quality has been linked to are weight gain, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. How? Lack of sleep can increase ghrelin levels, which are the hormones that stimulate appetite. Research is also being done on how sleep deprivation can increase our intake of unhealthy foods by changing our brain activity. And, too little sleep disrupts circadian rhythms which may increase the risk of insulin resistance (in turn increasing the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes).

The moral of this story is that sleep is important to our health. The risks mentioned above are serious, but even in the short term, many of us have noticed how lack of sleep affects us: less focus, moodiness, memory issues, the list goes on. And you may already know this! Most of us do, and we are really trying to get more sleep. But life gets in the way, and we understand that too. Here are some steps you can take to improve your sleep:

  • Go to bed at the same time each night and rise at the same time each morning.This helps to regulate your body’s clock and could help you fall asleep and stay asleep for the night.
  • Avoid caffeine after noon. It can linger in the body for hours, preventing sleep. If you need an afternoon pick me up, take a quick 10-minute walk, have a balanced snack, or drink a glass of cold water (with citrus and/or mint for an extra boost).
  • Limit alcohol and large meals, especially late in the evenings, since they can cause you to wake in the middle of the night.
  • Exercise daily. Studies show that regular exercisers report getting better sleep.
  • Make your bedroom a tech-free zone. Keep phones, tablets, and all other gadgets in another room. If you use your phone as an alarm clock, get an alarm clock instead!
  • Wind down before bed. Spend the hour before going to bed doing a calming activity, like reading, journaling, taking a bath, or listening to quiet music. If you find that watchingTV or being on your phone keeps you awake, avoid these activities right before bed.
  • If you can’t sleep, get up and do a quiet activity in another room for 20-30 minutes.

If you are constantly struggling with sleepless nights, it would be best to speak to your physician and/or a sleep professional to help you find the underlying source.

National Sleep Foundation, How Much Sleep Do We Really Need? and Annual Sleep in America Poll
GALLUP Dec.5-8, 2013
Patel SR. Am J Epidemiol. 2006 Nov 15;164(10):947-54
Taheri S. PLoS Med. 2004 Dec;1(3):e62 St-Onge MP. Am J ClinNutr. 2011 Aug;94(2):410-6 St-Onge MP. Int J Obes (Lond). 2014 Mar; 38(3): 411–416
GreerSM..Nat Commun. 2013 Aug 6; 4: 2259 Schmid SM.Am J ClinNutr. 2009 Dec;90(6):1476-82 Bromley LE.Sleep. 2012 Jul 1;35(7):977-84 Shi SQ. Curr Biol. 2013 Mar 4;23(5):372-81 Kristen L. KnutsonA. N Y Acad Sci. 2008; 1129: 287–304 Kristen L. Knutson A. Sleep Med Rev. 2007 Jun; 11(3): 163–178.

Our Favorite Dairy Free Products

What are your favorite dairy free products?  We get this question a lot.  We are an office full of mostly dairy free people, so we know quite a bit about dairy free products. Even if we haven’t tried it, our patients probably have.  We decided it’s time to put together a list of our tried-and-true favorite dairy free products in hopes it will help our friends out there like you!

Dairy Free Milk Canva


New Barn Almond Milk

This milk is a favorite because it has very few added ingredients, and instead of being sweetened with cane sugar, they use maple syrup.  If you opt for the unsweetened version, the only three ingredients are almonds, water, and acacia gum which helps to stabilize and thicken the milk.

Find it here.


Elmhurst makes a collection of rich and creamy milks that are all delicious with minimal ingredients.  We like that they use a cold brewing process that retains the nutrition of the nuts and eliminates the need for thickeners and stabilizers.  The only downside is they do not currently make unsweetened milk, but maybe they will in the future.

Find it here.

SILK Cashew Milk

SILK contains more ingredients than the two listed above, but SILK products are much easier to find, which may be a plus depending on where you live. Their cashew milk is a creamy blend of cashews and almonds.  It comes in a variety of sweetened and unsweetened flavors making it accessible for anyone.

Find it here.



Kite Hill Almond Yogurt (Regular and Greek)

Kite Hill yogurts are creamy and delicious.  They do have a mild almond flavor which isn’t noticeable with the flavored varieties- like blueberry, strawberry, etc.- but we enjoy the plain unsweetened variety and flavor it ourselves.  The Greek version is creamier than the original.

Find it here.

So Delicious Coconut Milk Yogurt

We like So Delicious because it comes in a variety of flavors and is easy to find.  The yogurt itself is not as thick as regular yogurt and slightly more sweet from the coconut milk.

Find it here.

Amande Almond Yogurt

This yogurt is a good option for those who are avoiding sugar but still enjoy sweet flavors, as it is sweetened only with fruit juice.  They offer many different flavors, including plain, and the yogurt is a rich and creamy consistency.

Find it here.



Note: Unfortunately, there are not many dairy free cheeses available that are similar to the flavor of real cheese.  Because of this, most are disappointed when they try them. That said, with an open mind, these cheese alternatives can be quite enjoyable. We like to take it in a new direction with something unexpected, such as a nut cheese.

Kite Hill Almond Cheese

Kite Hill has it cheese down to a science.  While they are not the traditional shredded or block cheese, they are delicious and enjoyed spread over gluten free crackers, breads, or fruit.

Find it here.

Dr. Cow Cashew or Macadamia Nut Cheese

Dr. Cow, like Kite Hill, makes nut cheeses which are more of a spreadable type cheese.  Their inventory consists of cashew and macadamia nut cheese.  They also have different infused flavors which are great.

Find it here.


Ice Cream

So Delicious Coconut, Almond, and Cashew Milk Ice Creams

So Delicious is easy to find and we like that they make a coconut milk ice cream that doesn’t contain any sugar – only erythritol and monk fruit (lo han guo).  The cashew variety is especially creamy and melts like real ice cream.

Find it here.

Wink Sugar Free Dairy Free Desserts

This frozen dessert does not contain sugar and has recognizable ingredients. A great option if you are dealing with food sensitivities.

Find it here.

*As always, when purchasing commercially packaged foods, always read the ingredient labels to be sure it is free of any allergens or ingredients you are sensitive to.


Stefanie Gates, chef, is a regular contributor to our blog and culinary advisor for PreviMedica. She enjoys developing recipes and creating cooking videos to share with our readers, as well as working one-on-one with our clients to teach them valuable cooking skills. Her main recipe tester is her 22 month old son.  You can learn more about her here.


Living With Food Sensitivities: Gluten

So you reacted to gluten on your food sensitivity test, now what?

At the end of the day, you probably just want to know- what do I eat? Which, I promise we will get to. But first, it is important to understand what your culprit is so you at least have a general idea of where it’s found to better avoid it.


Gluten is a protein found in the following grains: wheat, spelt, malt, barley, and rye. While you may not necessarily be eating these grains whole, like pearled barley with your steak, a sandwich on rye bread, or cream of wheat for breakfast- these are all very common ingredients in a lot of processed and packaged foods. So if you want to see the best possible results with your food sensitivity testing and are currently eat packaged foods, you are likely going to be replacing a lot of these with alternative products.

The “obvious” foods that will contain gluten are baked goods and anything made with flour. This includes: bread, pasta, pizza, muffins, tortillas, cookies, pastries, cakes, etc. The not so obvious ones will be products like: flavored snacks, spices, sauces (soy, Marinara, Worcestershire), dressings, processed meats, gravies, beer, candy, seitan, panko, orzo, udon, couscous and grains that are derivatives of wheat like semolina, faro, durum, and bulgur.

Brunch (11 of 19)

By now, I’m sure you’re thinking “is there anything left for me to eat?!”

The good news is- YES! Yes, there is. For every food that contains gluten there is likely a gluten free alternative. To ensure complete avoidance, taking on the habit of reading ingredient labels is key. You’re not likely to find the word “gluten” listed. Instead, you want to make sure the aforementioned grains (or derivatives) are not listed anywhere on the ingredient list. The easiest way to seek these for these alternative foods is by looking for a “GF” or “gluten free” or “certified gluten free” label on the product. If a product is labeled only as “wheat free”, this does not necessarily mean that that it will be gluten free.

labelreading (1 of 1)

To add to the good news, you don’t have to go to a “special store” to find gluten free options. Many grocery stores carry a variety of gluten free products. Depending on the set-up, some may have it in the same aisle as the gluten contain food you may be looking for, or they may be in its own special section. If you are not sure, just ask an employee. One example, gluten free breads almost always come frozen; so be sure to check out the bread section in the freezer aisle for your gluten free options. If options are limited at your regular grocery store, then you may want to consider your local health food store, as they may carry a wider variety of gluten free products.

With the good news also comes the not-so-good news. Gluten free products will perhaps not taste like their gluten-containing counterparts and will likely be more expensive. Keep an open mind when it comes to these alternative options; if you didn’t like the gluten free bread or gluten free cracker you picked up, try a different brand next time you are at the grocery store. To try and keep your grocery bill from skyrocketing with this new eating pattern, consider naturally gluten free foods such as fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry, seafood, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, and the following whole grains: amaranth, buckwheat, corn (organic, non GMO), millet, oats (gluten free), quinoa, rice, sorghum, tapioca, teff, wild rice.


Lastly, a common misconception of gluten free products is that they are healthier. The truth is, a cookie is a cookie- gluten free or not. In fact, the gluten free alternative may have more sugar and processed fats compared to the gluten containing one. It is important to not lose sight of promoting positive eating to reach your wellness goals. Choose naturally gluten free whole foods first and implement your processed gluten free products as needed.

Changing eating habits is a difficult, sometimes intimidating, task to take on and may not necessarily be achieved overnight. However, with guidance, planning, and an open mind, living a gluten free life can be enjoyable and fulfilling!

If you’re looking for gluten free recipes, you’ve come to the right place! The majority of the recipes on this website are gluten free.. Here are some of our favorite alternatives to traditionally gluten-containing dishes:

Gluten Free Chicken and Dumplings

Gluten Free Mac N’ Cheese

Easy Gluten Free Almond Bread

Easy Two-Ingredient Pancakes

Gluten Free Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Apple Carrot Muffins

Living Gluten Free


Ashat, Munish.  Kochhar, Rakesh. (2014). Non-celiac gluten hypersensitivity, Tropical Gastroenterology, 35 (2): 71-78.

“The Gluten-Free Diet.” Beyond Celiac,

Basilia Theofilou is a contributor on our blog as well as one of the nutrition advisors here at PreviMedica. You can read more about her here.

Our Favorite Halloween-Themed Treats

Halloween is an exciting time of year for kids and adults alike.  The excitement of costumes, parties, and the cooler air makes it easy to get everyone in the family involved for a fun Halloween party.  Whether it’s a pumpkin carving party or a huge Halloween bash, these ideas are sure to inspire you.  Who needs candy when you can make these fun AND healthy treats?

Snack O' Lantern Fruit Cups

(Photo courtesy of 

1. In addition to carving pumpkins, why not carve oranges?


Colby Jack O' Lanterns

(Photo courtesy of

2. You don’t even need cookie cutters to make these fun Halloween sandwiches!


Halloween Treat: Cheese and Pretzel Broomsticks

(Photo courtesy of

3. We made these fun broomsticks last year out of pretzel sticks and string cheese!  Catch the video of making them in next week’s post.


Make snacking fun by turning regular apples into silly apple bites. Food with an attitude!Your kids will be begging for seconds.

(Photo courtesy of

4. Sliced apples, strawberries and sunflower seeds are hysterically funny Halloween bites.


Healthy Halloween Spooky Spider Deviled Eggs

(Photo courtesy of

5. These hardboiled eggs turn into the perfect nest for some scary spiders.



(Photo courtesy of

6. Get the kids involved in carving scary Halloween melons to make a cute fruit platter display or candle display!


Stefanie Gates, chef, is a regular contributor to our blog and culinary advisor for PreviMedica. She enjoys developing recipes and creating cooking videos to share with our readers, as well as working one-on-one with our clients to teach them valuable cooking skills. Her main recipe tester is her 20 month old son.  You can learn more about her here.

Made Over Meals – Simple Changes to Make for Your Health

Making simple changes to your favorite dishes can go a long way when it comes to your health. We have compiled a list of our staff’s favorite meals and proposed some simple changes to a few key ingredients to make them over into something a tad healthier.  No matter what your journey is – eating healthy, losing weight, or avoiding food sensitivities, we all can benefit from making healthy changes to how we live!

Healthy Changes Collage


Healthy Swap: Switch out the pasta for thinly sliced vegetables such as zucchini, yellow squash, or ribbons of carrots.  Layer the vegetables with cheese and sauce.  By replacing the pasta with vegetables you are drastically cutting down on carbohydrates and increasing your vegetable intake – a bonus!

Corned Beef Reuben with Swiss, Sauerkraut, and Thousand Island Dressing

Healthy Swap: Instead of corned beef, think about using nitrate free turkey.  Make your own thousand island dressing (we really like this recipe), and choose a gluten free rye-style bread.

Chicken and Dumplings

Healthy Swap: This thick and creamy comfort food is easily made with gluten free flour, non-dairy butter type spread, and white meat chicken.  Instead of using heavy cream, use a non-dairy milk such as almond or organic soy milk.  Season generously and stir in lots of chopped veggies.


Healthy Swap: We won’t beat around the bush with this one. This recipe is made with cashews! You won’t even know the difference – it is a well-loved dish in our office.


Healthy Swap: There are so many ways to make meatloaf a little bit healthier.  Replace regular bread crumbs with ground oats (gluten free if needed), use ground turkey or chicken in the place of beef, and add in chopped vegetables such as carrots, onion, celery, spinach, kale, peppers, etc. You will have a veggie-packed meatloaf in no time!

Mashed Potatoes

Healthy Swap: Instead of the creamy butter and milk filled potatoes, change your line of thinking to a smashed potato.  Boil your potatoes as usual, smash the potatoes with a masher, and stir in good tasting olive oil, salt, pepper, and fresh herbs.

Chicken Tenders

Healthy Swap: Bread your chicken with gluten free bread crumbs, almond flour, or even chia seeds! The options are endless.  Season your breading with whatever your favorite spices are and bake in the oven or sauté on the stove top.  No batter or deep frying found here!

French Fries

Healthy Swap: Using a mandolin, cut the potatoes to the desired thickness.  If you don’t have one, cut the potato into wedges with a knife.  Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, and any other seasonings you desire.  Bake in a 400°F oven until they are brown and crisp.

Baked Ziti

Healthy Swap: Substitute regular pasta for whole grain or gluten free pasta, make your own marinara, and use grated vegetables mixed throughout along with half the cheese and more Parmesan than mozzarella.

Chicken Parmesan

Healthy Swap: Instead of breading and frying your chicken cutlet, simply toss the chicken in seasoned almond flour and pan fry until cooked through.  Serve on a bed of whole grain or gluten free spaghetti and cover with homemade marinara and a topping of Parmesan cheese.  Bake to melt the cheese.

Shephard’s Pie

Healthy Swap: While lamb is delicious, it is very fatty! Try a blend of lamb and lean beef, or forego the lamb altogether and use ground chicken or turkey.  Mix in all of your favorite vegetables (peas, carrots, celery, green beans, spinach, etc.) and top with a layer of mashed cauliflower.  Bake until heated through and bubbly!

Ice Cream

Healthy Swap: Oh delicious ice cream.  Instead of opting for the dairy filled version, make your own with coconut milk!  Be sure to use the full fat version for the best results.  Instead of using a ton of added sugar, skip it all together and use spices and extracts that give the impression of sweetness such as vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, or almond extract.  You don’t even need an ice cream maker!

Stefanie Gates, chef, is a regular contributor to our blog and culinary advisor for PreviMedica. She enjoys developing recipes and creating cooking videos to share with our readers, as well as working one-on-one with our clients to teach them valuable cooking skills. Her main recipe tester is her 20 month old son.  You can learn more about her here.

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